Pump Action
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Basic Information

A type of single action mechanism whereby the action is cocked and a round chambered by the operator working a sliding handle which often doubles as the foregrip and slides lengthways along the weapon.

This action is usually confined to long arms as pistols rarely have the length to accommodate a slide and heavy weapons are rarely set up in such a way as to make it practical. The best known application of the pump action principle is in magazine fed shotguns.

It is possible - although rare - for pump action to be included in the working of a non-single action weapon. Franchi's SPAS series shotguns can operate by pump or semi-automatic action for example and the user can switch between modes as he requires.

Occasionally found in airguns, although in this case the slide normally has to be worked repeatedly to build up a charge.

Some pump action weapons can be 'slam fired' - that is the user holds down the trigger and works the pump so that the cartridges are driven onto the firing pin as soon as they are chambered. Allegedly this provides a slight increase in the rate of fire, but is not good for the mechanism and carries an increased risk of breech or magazine explosions. Many modern designs have safety features which will prevent this from happening.


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • This is the classic action for a repeating shotgun. A pump action anything else is a useful schtick for an NPC or signature gear for a PC … and may be mistaken for a shotgun on cursory inspection anyway.
  • The cultural presence and memetics of this are so strong that racking a pump action may give you a bonus to intimidate someone if the GM allows it. Fail your roll and you've racked a weapon that already had a round chambered - not only is the target not impressed, but one of your shots is now rolling about on the floor.
  • The US produced a limited number of pump action 40mm grenade-launchers - typically known as China Lake Grenade Launchers or China Lake Guns after the arsenal where they were developed.
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